Middlesex Greenway: Finished

Done.  Complete, at 4:30 pm, at the county border between Middlesex and Hertfordshire.  I am home and washed (much needed).  The last stretch to this point on the Lea Navigation from Enfield town centre is the end of my walk, but perhaps not the end of the project.

You soon realise that Enfield does not consider itself part of London, and that Enfield is right. Its attached districts are contiguous with the metropolitan conurbation and share much of its character, but Enfield itself is a town on its own.  It is the last town in Middlesex, but there is still more to see.

Hilly Fields Park

After perhaps a mile, if that, walking due north along the New River and through the streets, I emerged from the townscape into Hilly Fields Park, a gently wooded expanse, which then opens into Forty Hall Country Park, and here once again I was on the London LOOP, a route which has blatantly copied the Middlesex Greenway in several places.

I said in a post yesterday that I had seen the last of the farms on the route, but here I was passing Forty Hall Farm, a working farm making the most of its proximity to townsfolk in need of country refreshment.  That though was the other side of the expanse of the park.

The route runs along the south side of the Turkey Brook, heading east, and stays with it in various guises for some miles.  This is a popular path and deservedly so.  The path runs through the woods, passing a beautiful lake, almost paved with autumn leaves, until it finally emerges on a road, Forty Green Road, then across it, but here the route is not as pastoral; scrubby, almost post-industrial as it is uncultivated, but bursting with untamed nature, as I crossed a high bridge over the A10.  (I was glad that I wore lighter boots than on the previous days.)

In Forty Hall Country Park

Enfield Wash is one of those dependent districts, separate from Enfield in place and character but borrowing its name, and here I turned away from the brook by the wonderfully named Turkey Street Station.  Through the streets, led by map and the signs the the ‘Enfield Green Ways’, I headed still east, across a broad park, over another railway, over another road, and suddenly reached the canal and the edge of the county.

At Enfield Lock there once stood the government-owned Enfield Small Arms Factory, producer of the Lee Enfield rifle and many, many more.  The factory stands over the canal and the old river course and therefore in Essex (though the preserved houses of Government Row are in Middlesex – the boundary get a bit complex round here as the boundary river, the Lea, has been diverted).  From here it is simply a case of walking north until the motorway.

The Lea Navigation canal

The canal is the Lea Navigation – a canal created out of the River Lea, while the river itself, such as it is, runs a little to the east.  The old course is somewhat subsumed.  The canal towpath on the Middlesex side runs due north, so I followed it up.  Soon the houses drop away, and I was in Rammey Moor, but soon too the roar of traffic is heard.  I came past a veritable village of narrrowboats, and the Narrowboat Café (I didn’t get a chance to drop in to see if they had fruit buns, alas).  Then soon I was at the M25.

North of the motorway is an industrial estate.  According to the route directions, the path ends, and the county ends, where the fence of the industrial estate meets the path, so I walked to that point:  that’s where I stood for the picture at the top of the page.  However just before the fence I found a concrete pillar marked with “MCC”, and I think “HCC on the adjacent face, though it was too worn to be sure.  Was this the measured boundary point on the canal?  Once, presumably, there would have been a coal post.  No matter; it was an end and the achievement of a fine walk of which more people should be aware.

The walk is one I would highly recommend, perhaps in sections; you need not walk the whole thing, though if you do, you will find it rewarding.  I would not ask anyone to do something I am not prepared to do myself – so I have.

The “MCC” post


Once again, thank you to Stephen Collins for his Herculean efforts in creating the route.   I will refine the map on this website in the light of seeing it on the ground.

Once again also, I am still collecting donation for the Stroke Association, as below:

Please donate to the Stroke Association: click here.

Follow my track on the Middlesex Greenway

(I am told that this can also be followed on Twitter: @wildthing_uk)

Middlesex Greenway 11: a string of parks to Enfield

A green pathway through the heart of the urbanised places was this morning’s route.  I started at Arnos Grove station, where I finished last night, left at the Arnos Arms and at the end of a short road, there was Arnos Park, all in the dene of Pymme’s Brook.  The path crosses the narrow with, then straight on through residential streets, but with purpose, to Southgate High Street, which was an interesting discovery – set beside a village green with the village stocks still maintained (if not used; this is clearly a well-behaved village).

You’ll not deny this is a green way

The next park is march larger: Grovelands Park, with its boating lake unfrequented by any keels at this season.

Then it is on towards Enfield.  One path I had marked down, beside a tiny stream, had padlocked gates across it and an injunction notice.  (The notice did not say what the injunction forbids, but I assumed it is against walking the path, and as an officer of the court I cannot get on the wrong side of it.)

The approach to Enfield is initially on the road, with a green expanse of the golf course inaccessible to the public, but the Town Park is.  Here you can follow the path beside the New River, or through the park itself.  Either one leads up to the town centre.

Quick lunch in Enfield, then I start again beside the New River on the final stretch to the Lea and Rammy Marsh.

Library Green, Enfield

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Follow my track on the Middlesex Greenway

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Middlesex Greenway 10: To Arnos Grove

As the Middlesex Greenway enters Woodside Park, it re-enters the suburban landscape, but down these mean streets a man must go….

‘Mean’?  No, this is the Middlesex of Edwardian Villas and trimmed gardens, and of faded Edwardian villas divided into tiny flats, and of real people.  At first though, Woodside Park, and this road almost resembles Croxley Green, which is praise indeed.  It runs down to the Dollis Brook, where we escape again into greenness along the brook briefly and across it:  look for the first, green footbridge.

The light has gone.  There are no pretty photographs here (I have just added though a picture of the lake in the hidden park found in northern Edgware).

Back on the streets, the Middlesex Greenway does not escape the conurbation again until the end of the walk.  I was back to road walking for several miles, but along a surprising variety of roads from the well-heeled suburb to, well, the intensely practical.  The districts go by – North Finchley, Friern Barnet, New Southgate.  The route has a few welcome brief skips though green space; Friary Park and what I think is called Bethune Park, to New Southgate.

These suburban roads were not as difficult to follow as I thought they might be.  I was glad of my route planning beforehand though (watch for stations, past Arnos Grove station and first left after the Arnos Arms).

However, I am did not turn left past the Arnos Arms:  I am heading home after very much enjoying a good supper at the Arnos Arms.  Tomorrow is another day.

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Follow my track on the Middlesex Greenway

(I am told that this can also be followed on Twitter: @wildthing_uk)

Middlesex Greenway 9: the last farms

Oh for a last hoorah, a walk amidst green fields before the light is lost.  I have passed the last Middlesex farmland, if not the last green lungs on the route.

Bury Farm, Edgwarebury

At the beginning of the afternoon I headed out to Bury Farm at Edgwarebury, and a smart farm it is, with grazing grooming busily continuing and I am intruder amongst it all.  I was aware of the threat on the horizon, and the looming towers are ever-present, as it the roar of the M25, but at least that passes by without spreading from its track.

Later, after beating through the various forms of Edgware through which the Middlesex Greenway runs, the townscape merged without break into Mill Hill, about which I wrote in my last post.

Mill Hill High Street

I followed the streets of Mill Hill according to the careful trace on my map, until I reached the village end of the place.

From this village, the route runs out of the edge of the conurbation, which gave way to open fields between Burtonhole Farm and the Old Camdenians sports ground; a careful choice of track here:  it is the bridleway running beneath the trees.

(About 400 yards to the north of here, the Folly Brook marks the border of Hertfordshire: a finger of the latter county which jabs deep into the conurbation, which is why I go no further north.)  There is a sudden south turn in the route shortly afterwards to avoid trespassing into Totteridge across the border.

Burtonhole Farm is not the last though:  the lane emerges in a farm where horses are grazing and in the yard, several pupils were having riding lessons, and beyond the well-kept stables and the buildings there was the open land, full of life.

What it must do to the soul of those developers who seeing a single blade of grass treat it with such searing resentment or jealousy.  The smiles on the farms tell of a better way.

The last farmland,, west of Whetstone

Still, people need places away from farms to live, and that is where we return when the last farm is passed.  Even in the suburban places though, the route will follow a string of parks, and remember that these broad acres of greensward are what is left of what was once farmland. At present I am writing from the Arnos Arms by Arnos Grove station.  That though is another story.

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Follow my track on the Middlesex Greenway

(I am told that this can also be followed on Twitter: @wildthing_uk)

Middlesex Greenway 8: to Mill Hill

A mixed bag so far this afternoon. Stanmore (which I belied:  there are some very nice houses past the station)nis the edge of the conurbation, and after less than a mile the route escapes the town and enters the countryside.  The route leads first in a wild loop north far away from the direct route, to Edgware Bury, a farm (this is a greenway, after all).  There is a problem with the first escape though: the corner by the roundabout, shown green on the map, is a scoured waste with a giant, black billboard at its entrance, and beneath the black I could read the deadly name “Barratt”.  The path I had planned was all Eintritt verboten, and the mapped public footpath had disappeared (at both ends) but a farm track eventually led away from the waste to the farm.

It is rich pasture here. If you think that everything a bureaucrat labels “London” is London, this is what proves him wrong, as a wandered through farmland – Middlesex farmland.

After the farmstead and another meandering mile along a lovely autumnal footpath through tree, reaching suburban Edgware is however inevitable.  From entering the northern edge of Edgware, it is a long stretch of road walking.  There are odd breathing spaces:   a hidden park with a little lake in Edgware, but even this is hemmed in between streets, and leads to the underpass beneath the railway and the M1.  Across the M1 the streets resume.

Mill Hill is a bewildering contrast:  pure London-suburb where it merges with Edgware and around the Broadway, with the motorway and the A1 dashing past getting people out of London as fast as they can (a note:  take the underpass beneath the vast roundabout), but then after several attempts at becoming a village further east, it has finally succeeded.

I have stopped at The Summerhouse café in the Finchley Nurseries just off the route (good scones, but the way, and wifi).

More to be done now though.  The night is young.

This section looks complicated on the map, but the path in the open fields is not too bad:  the street sections need more care, and there has been a lot more of that so far than in the first part of the route.


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Follow my track on the Middlesex Greenway

(I am told that this can also be followed on Twitter: @wildthing_uk)

Middlesex Greenway 7: Next stages

I will admit that Stanmore Station is not my favourite place, sitting in no obvious location, just where the rail line stopped.  A late start today, as I was doing my duties as a councillor all this morning.  I will take a minute to locate where I should have emerged from the Park last Sunday, had I used the compass more keenly, then I will head straight out.

Last weekend I could say that I was familiar in some way with most off the villages and suburbs on the route, if not the paths threaded between them.  This was the surprise of the route:  passing through suburbia with barely a view of suburbia.  This weekend though, which should complete the route, I enter the unknown.  Also I will enter the more intense townscape of the route, which will be more typical of Middlesex as a whole.  Even here though I see parks on the route and open spaces, which are needed for a town to have life.

One set of green spaces I will not enter are those along Pymme’s Brook, as the shallow valley of the brook is in Hertfordshire.  While urbanisation has overspread all the sides of the brook and absorbed this long Hertfordshire salient indistinguishably with the rest, the ancient stream reminds us of the ancient bounds.

There is all this to be seen – farms still, and parks, streets with plush villa homes or rows of battered shopfronts, and roads filled with drivers passing heedless of the life of the town around them, new districts, old towns, commons, rivers and canals.  I might even find a café that is not part of an anonymous chain, and that elusive fruit bun.  All this is yet to be explored.

Right: boots on, and let’s go.


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Follow my track on the Middlesex Greenway

(I am told that this can also be followed on Twitter: @wildthing_uk)

Middlesex Greenway 6: to Stanmore

It is a mile and a half across from Pinner to Headstone Lane. Starting at the station and heading up the high street (using a compass in a town gets funny looks, but it is needed to get the right streets out to where a footpath breaks into the open).  Then it is a simple, muddy footpath over Pinner Park Farm.  A farm seems out of place here folded into the suburbs but it is a green lung needed to break the claustrophobia.  At the end the footpath crosses the dual carriageway and the railway and there the suburban townscape begins again.

Pinner Park Farm

The route does not go straight to Stanmore, but tracks north-east to break into the open, heading to Harrow Weald Common then west to Stanmore Common, creeping round the edge of Bentley Priory.

I was walking close to the northern border of Middlesex and had been climbing steadily.  The highest point of Middlesex is at a road junction on Bushey Heath a few hundred yards north of the route – I didn’t divert to it though.

Some of the route is difficult to follow here as it crosses the commons and turns south again down to Stanmore.  I studied the pencil line on I had made my map and thankfully it is drawn by a number of landmarks, but even here I got lost somewhere on Pinner Common, and emerged in the wrong place.  I am glad I was not doing this bit at night.  Eventually after various wrong turns I reached Stanmore Station at 1:15 pm.

This is my short day today, and Stanmore an easy route home.  Back next weekend.

Please donate to the Stroke Association: click here.

Follow my track on the Middlesex Greenway

(I am told that this can also be followed on Twitter: @wildthing_uk)

Middlesex Greenway 5: end of the day

No. my feet are not hurting:  that constant throbbing is just their way of telling me they are raring to go.

Twenty miles done, a little under halfway.  My brain started switching off after the first five hours or so.

It is only another mile and a half across from Pinner to Headstone Lane.  (If anyone knows how it got that name, actually, don’t tell me, but I’m sure it wasn’t a developer’s marketing pitch.)

It was still only late afternoon but was already getting dark.  No more tonight. Train home and start again in the morning.  Maybe a shorter run as I have to be fit for work on Monday morning.

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Follow my track on the Middlesex Greenway

(I am told that this can also be followed on Twitter: @wildthing_uk)

Middlesex Greenway 3: to Uxbridge

The conurbation begins at West Drayton, but the route, after some drear road walking, heads out of the town to the waters. In Yiewsley I met the Grand Union Canal (which I could have followed all the way home), but the route leads a little further beyond, to the county’s border with Buckinghamshire, on the River Colne.  Here for a while I found myself following “Shakespeare’s Way”, a walking route from the Globe Theatre in Southwark to Stratford-upon-Avon.  Now that would be an interesting walk for another time.

Little Britain Lake

Leaving the Bard’s track, the Greenway runs through an industrial end (this is not the Middlesex of Edwardian villas and well-tended front gardens) but suddenly out into a green lane, following north up the Colne on the county border, on a route borrowed by the London LOOP path (and I do wonder if the latter copied the Middlesex Greenway as it was proposed at the same meeting in 1990). It is a pleasant walk.  The leaves were deep, but after reaching the hardened paths later, I lost most of the mud off my boots before entering the café (sorry) but that autumn morning fragrance is a charm to the senses.

I followed the waterside all the way to Uxbridge before heading to the town centre, and when I get going again in a few minutes I will rejoin the waterside briefly before I turn north-east.

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Follow my track on the Middlesex Greenway

(I am told that this can also be followed on Twitter: @wildthing_uk)

Middlesex Greenway 4: to Pinner

I reached Pinner at 4:00 pm. Are there no independent cafés anywhere these days?  Still no cherry-topped buns:  muffins aplenty but no buns.  This must be addressed urgently.

The route from Uxbridge lies across Uxbridge Common then it needs some good compass work.  The route follows the River Pinn through Ickenham to Ruislip, which is complicated in this section; the Greenway route seeking out green footpaths threading amongst so much suburban streetscape, but to manage to pass through such a thickly urbanised area with so little on road, within woods an across heathland, is an achievement. A marked map and a magnifying lens got me through though.

Then it emerges at the Ruislip Lido, disappearing into the autumnal woods beside station (that of the Lido’s miniature railway, that is).  This is why the route is rightly called the Greenway, or perhaps orange-tawny-and-brown-way at moment.  Soon though, Middlesex being Middlesex, it emerges in a polite suburb, in the Eastcote or Pinner (indistinguishable), and tracks the Pin Brook tight between houses then suburban streets to Pinner station (a real station this time).

Ruislip Lido

This is of course Metro-Land: there are no “streets”, but “avenues”, “lanes”, “ways”, “closes” and “meadows” – anything to avoid the dread, urban word “street”.

Pinner is a good end for a day’s journey, at 20 miles from the starting point, and with an easy route to Croxley. However there is a long way to go, and that map is begging me to look further, across Pinner Park Farm (yes, a farm this deep in the suburbs), to an unpromising name:  Headstone Lane.  It is getting dark quickly though.  I’ll see after I finish this cup of tea.

Please donate to the Stroke Association: click here.

Follow my track on the Middlesex Greenway

(I am told that this can also be followed on Twitter: @wildthing_uk)